MONTREAL - If Phillip Danault could go back in time, he would've begun practicing Pilates a long time ago.
This summer, the 25-year-old forward has incorporated the exercise system into his training routine for the very first time in hopes of strengthening his core and staying mentally sharp, too.
"I'm doing more core exercises so I'll be stronger on the ice and off the ice, too - more balanced. Everything starts from the core, so that's what I'm working on," explained Danault, who engages in Pilates workouts three to four times per week, preferably on the rooftop of his lake house near Quebec City. "I take it seriously. It helps to heal my mind. It's a great way to be strong and stay focused at the same time. I wish I knew Pilates before. I feel very good."
It's also the perfect warmup before hitting the ice for his skating sessions with long-time trainer Raymond Veillette. The renowned strength and conditioning coach actually put Danault in touch with local osteopath Anne David to introduce him to Pilates, show him the basics and develop a program that he plans on using during the season as well.
"It's helping me develop the good way. It works all the little muscles that make your bigger muscles stronger," mentioned the four-year NHL veteran. "I'll do it every pre-game during the year. I've got two sets of pilates. One is harder than the other. I'll probably do the harder version once per week. Then, I've got one that wakes up all of those little muscles to make sure you're ready to play - to shoot, to skate, to pivot. It's very specific. It's a 20 to 25-minute workout on every muscle of your body."
Under Veillette's watch, Danault continued to work on his speed, agility, mobility and his hands alongside the likes of good friends Patrice Bergeron, David Desharnais, Antoine Vermette and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
The Victoriaville native is hoping all of his hard work will pay off come October as the Canadiens look to the turn the tables on a disappointing 2017-18 campaign.
"I want to be a solid two-way center again. I want to be strong on my faceoffs and bring a little bit of the same I've been bringing the last two years, making progress. I want to step up," mentioned Danault, who signed a brand new three-year contract on July 15. "I want to get more ice time by playing well. I want to get to another level. I know I've got more juice in me. I'm ready for this. Power play is a big part of hockey and I want to be a part of it. I haven't been the last few years, so I'm definitely looking forward to this. I want to be a solid two-way guy on the penalty kill and 5-on-5. I'll do whatever the coach asks me to do."
Video: EDM@MTL: Danault bats home backhander in close
After suiting up for just 52 games last season due to injury and playing his last game on March 10 in Tampa, it's safe to say Danault is eager to get back to work.
He's hungry to win again and to help right the ship from the get-go.
"We want to be good as a team, we want to win and we want to have fun throughout the season. We've got to have fun again. Last year, we didn't have fun," shared Danault. "We're playing at the Bell Centre, which is the most prestigious place to play. It's an honor to be there. We've all got to enjoy every single second of it… It's a new year. It's a new vibe."
On tying the knot…
Back on July 21, Danault married his long-time girlfriend Marie-Pierre Fortin.
Following a church ceremony, a celebration was held at the National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec.
Teammates Nicolas Deslauriers, Jonathan Drouin, Charles Hudon and Paul Byron were in attendance for the festivities, along with their significant others.
"They were the life of the party," said Danault with a laugh. "We sat them together. It was great."
As for married life, Danault couldn't be happier.
"It's amazing. I'm happy to be with her and she's happy to be with me. I feel like it's the start of a life," said Danault. "We'll be getting the video of the wedding soon."
The couple actually honeymooned in Europe before exchanging vows so Danault could stay on schedule training-wise.